xxxHolic, The Complete Series – DVD Review

Review by: Clive Owen

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $69.98 US
Running Time: 600 minutes
Genre: Supernatural
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now

Your deepest desires might not be exactly what you want.

CLAMP has been well-known throughout the manga community for bringing us great work such as Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Chobits and the collaborative series Code Geass that have been wonderfully translated into unforgettable anime series. Joining these titles is xxxHolic, a series that is fascinating as a manga and a decent-if-not-flawed adaptation on the small screen. The Complete Series of xxxHolic is here and it’s a worthwhile to watch but it just doesn’t compare to the other successful adaptations of CLAMP’s work.

Kimihiro Watanuki has quite an interesting life and you wouldn’t know it just by looking at the High school student who is easily irritable to the point that his temper tantrums are hysterical. Like most boys his age, he has a major crush on a girl although she never really seems like she sees him in the same way he sees her. He’s also kindhearted, selfless and alone thanks to the fact that he’s an orphan living on his own. Watanuki also sees spirits who have been following him around since he was little … until, that is, something pulls him toward a most unusual store.

You see, this store is run by a very mysterious, sultry and downright sexy Dimensional Witch by the name of Yuuko Ichihara who lives with two sprite-like children. What does a Dimensional Witch sell, you might ask? Well, she sells your deepest desires by granting a client their wish. A Yuuko puts it, though, your wish comes with a price that is equal is what the person asks for and that might very well be a steep price to pay.

For Watanuki, the price of keeping those pesky spirits away from him comes at an enormous price and that is working at the shop and tending to Yuuko’s every needs, which are mainly for him too cook food, serve her sake and help her fulfill her clients’ wishes. The series takes chapters from the manga and turns them into whole episodes as Watanuki finds himself a part of Yuuko’s interesting world as a granter of wishes. I one case, for instance, a woman complains that her pinky finger is growing too heavy and the reason might be that the woman has a particularly nasty habit she possesses.

We are also introduced to two of Watanuki’s school friends, Himawari (the girl Watanuki has a major crush on) and Doumeko Shizuka (the school jock Watanuki dislikes). Yuuko often invites Himawari and Doumeki on jobs she sends Watanuki to look into and there’s a time when Himawari turns to Yuuko such as the time she hears that her friends are into a game called Angel that involves an odd version of the Ouija board. Doumeki’s presence, although an annoyance to Watanuki, has a reason and that is that the young man has a connection to the spiritual thanks to his grandfather.

Many of the cases revolve around familiar supernatural lore such as the time a college student asks Yuuko to borrow an antique that turns out the be the fabled Monkey’s Paw and in another episode Watanuki learns that some “old wife’s tales” and superstitions have a ring of truth to them … although clipping toenails at night hasn’t personally brought me any misfortune. Other cases include a pipe fox who seems to like Watanuki as well as a meeting with two sprites – one of which falls in love with Watanuki.

Other cases simply stray from the supernatural and lean towards the psychological such as the case of two identical twins … one of which is suffering an identity crisis. Then there’s the case of the woman who is obsessed with the Internet enough that she is neglecting her son and husband. Another client, a young girl, seems to be addicted to dating more than one man. Another case involves a woman who wants Yuuko to hide a picture that seems to be haunting her until the truth about the picture is finally revealed.

With the exception that there’s a black Mokona that is often seen pestering Watanuki and drinking with Yuuko, the anime practically ignores the Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles world unlike the manga that connects both worlds and characters together. Unfortunately, not all the episodes are compelling as they could have been considering the fact that Yuuko does come off as even more interesting and occasionally profound as in the series. She’s actually one of the highlights of this anime.

Sadly, The Complete Collection of xxxHolic just doesn’t quite capture the true essence of the manga series by CLAMP. That said, however, the anime series does have its great moments that occasionally shine through the bite-sized versions of an xxxHolic chapter. It’s still a thrill to see Yuuko come to life and literally steal the show right from under Watanuki so fans of the manga might want to check this one out anyway.

DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: C
A boy named Watanuki wanders into a most unusual shop where the owner, a mysterious and beautiful woman named Yuuko, can grants wishes for a price. Working for Yuuko, Watanuki discovers that there’s more to the shop and its clients than meets the eye as he helps his employer.

VIDEO QUALITY: B-
The episodes look great on DVD but the animation isn’t as striking as the manga’s art as we can see when Watanuki attempts to run. Other than that, the visual effects and crazy monster designs are easy on the eyes.

AUDIO QUALITY: B+
The opening theme song “Nineteen” is good but we love the closing theme songs for the series, especially the rocking “Kagerou” by BUCK-TICK, is awesome. The Japanese voice acting is the best way to watch the series but the English dub cast does a good job.

EXTRAS: D
There are no extras to speak of unless you count the trailers and the textless opening and closing tune on the fourth disc. Sadly, the movie isn’t included in The Complete Series set but a bonus episode does make the set.

OVERALL: C
Our wish was granted when we asked for an xxxHolic anime series but, unfortunately, the magic is missing in this series. That’s not to say that you won’t find something to like about the series or enjoy an episode or three but don’t expect this series to be as compelling as the manga series. This isn’t a bad series; it just isn’t as good as its source material.

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